India must focus on the less explored Alzheimer’s disease


The article titled ‘‘The economic burden of the care and treatment for people with Alzheimer’s disease: the outlook for the Czech Republic’’ by Mareova and Zahalkova is remarkable and timely, since it is immensely relevant to many developing nations that continue to suffer the worst economic burden inflicted by this progressive brain disorder affecting the society at large [1]. In general, people are not fully familiar with the causes and consequences of the Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia that affects millions across the developing world [2]. An example is India, which ranks third in the world with over four million people ([60 years) suffering from Alzheimer’s disease, closely following China and USA [2]. The number of victims could even go high since not all cases from rural areas are included, since over 60% of India’s 1.3 billion people are concentrated in villages and towns. Therefore, the government must conduct thorough door-to-door surveys to locate Alzheimer’s victims across the country using the manpower and resources of the healthcare sector. Then, the exact number of patients suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can be derived with minimal statistical error. When the Alzheimer’s disease advances, patients are often on the mercy of families that seldom know how to provide the best care, especially to the elderly. Although the exact economic burden of Alzheimer’s disease in India is not clearly known, each family that cares for a patient spends at least USD 700 annually to provide basic healthcare. Hence, educating the public, mainly families that deal Alzheimer’s patients is crucial to enhance awareness about this less understood disease. The 2015 dementia report for India states that one out of ten patients only get appropriate diagnosis, follow-up treatment and specialized care while the rest go unattended by health specialists [3]. Besides, India has only one neurologist per one million people and they often live in cities so access to specialists in the vast rural landscape goes beyond reach. Moreover, India has only about 100 specialized hospitals, where brain scans, neurological tests, and cognitive exams to evaluate memory can be done [4]. Sadly, it is insufficient to cover the entire rural India, where majority of patients are located. Besides, India’s healthcare spending is only about 1.3% of the gross domestic product (GDP). As a result, only a small part of it trickles down for Alzheimer’s disease management on the ground [5]. To fan the flames, the primary health centers are located in villages that cannot provide the best care for the Alzheimer’s patients due to lack of infrastructure, equipments, and expertise to treat neurological disorders. The life expectancy of people across India has also increased in recent decades, from 49.4 years during 1970–75 to 67.5 years during 2010–15, and it is projected to reach up to 75.9 years by 2045–50 [3]. Consequently, the chances of elderly suffering from the Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia will certainly increase fast in the near future. Therefore, India needs to create specialized Alzheimer’s disease management centers across all district headquarters covering the country by hiring specialist doctors, nurses, and healthcare social workers. Then, only the looming crisis can be brought under control. & Govindasamy Agoramoorthy

DOI: 10.1007/s10072-017-2840-x

Cite this paper

@article{Agoramoorthy2017IndiaMF, title={India must focus on the less explored Alzheimer’s disease}, author={Govindasamy Agoramoorthy}, journal={Neurological Sciences}, year={2017}, volume={38}, pages={923-924} }